Are You Really Supposed to Die to Yourself?

By Alison Cook -September 18, 2020

For years, there has been a silent message that most of us have been taught to accept. It is based on an idea that is portrayed as Biblical. The message is that in order to be a good Christian in any situation, no matter how hard, you must die to yourself.

This message has been passed down in various forms, such as:

  • You should always be nice.
  • You should only think of others.
  • It’s wrong to think about yourself.

In fact, you might have even heard these messages summarized in one powerful statement: You must die to yourself.

The subtle power of this message is strong, especially for women, because it is often portrayed as what Jesus wants. After all, didn’t Jesus say: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me”?  (Luke 9:23)

This phrase has been used out of context to encourage millions of women to:

  • destroy their health
  • stay in abusive marriages
  • let co-workers take advantage of them
  • bury their God-given talents
  • sit by while friends walk all over them

Do you really think that’s what Jesus meant?

When verses are ripped out of context and used as a weapon, it’s toxic. You may not even know that you’ve somehow internalized this toxic interpretation of Jesus’s words. You just know that you’re exhausted, hurting, empty, and overwhelmed.

I’ve been there. As a young Christian woman, I believed it was my job to say “yes” to every single person around me. I wanted to serve and help others, and I thought that my job was to “die to myself” in order to meet the needs of everyone else. This worked for a while, until I completely burnt out. I ended up feeling empty and alone. I was angry at others and angry at God. I had worked so hard to help others, why was I feeling this way?

I loved Jesus, and I genuinely cared for other people. I just didn’t have a clue how to honor the as yourself part of the “love others” commandment.

I didn’t know how to let Jesus love ME.

I didn’t know that loving others is a two-way street.

I didn’t know that contrary to what I had been taught, saying “yes” to Jesus meant saying “yes” to caring for my own heart and learning to meet my own needs.

But don’t take my word for it.

What “Die To Yourself” Really Means

Jesus said to deny yourself to follow him. Let’s take a look at what those phrases really mean.

First, listen to what Jesus said about what it means to die to yourself. Later in his life, when talking to his disciples, Jesus used a metaphor to describe the process of dying to yourself:

“Listen carefully, unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real, and eternal.” John 12:24-25, MSG (emphasis added)

A grain of wheat must be buried deep in the ground in order to become what it is really meant to become. That burial is like a death. That grain stops being a grain when it gets buried. Something old is gone. But what happens to that grain? It sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. That grain becomes even more powerful. It shines even more brightly.

In light of this passage:

Dying to yourself is a process of letting go of what was in order to become who you are meant to be.

This idea is backed up in other passages, as we learn what it means to follow Jesus. Here’s what John says:

But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.

John 1:11-12 MSG  (emphasis added)

John is saying that when you follow Jesus, believe in him, and do what he asks, you will become even more of your true self, the beautiful soul that God made. We know from Jesus’s words that the process can feel like death, like you are losing all that you have known. Indeed, letting go of old ways can be painful. Change is no small thing. But here’s the promise: You are dying to old ways in order to become the fierce, light-bearing woman that God made.

When you follow Jesus, you become your true self, your child-of-God self.

This process is not a rigid form of self-denial. It is not a “grin and bear it” way of being in  the world. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. If you are taking that approach, I’ll be honest: those parts of you are hanging on to old ways. It’s not actually dying to yourself.

Instead, consider this.

What if dying to yourself means dying to:

  • toxic patterns of relating to other people
  • people pleasing as a way to get love
  • shame and self-hatred
  • trying to perfect yourself in order to earn approval
  • playing small so others won’t be threatened by you
  • believing that you don’t matter and that your life does not have value

What if dying to yourself means dying to the lie that God does not want more for you?

What if dying to yourself means saying “yes” to doing the work of becoming your true self?

What if dying to yourself means saying “yes” to following Jesus as he seeks to heal you and your relationships from the inside out?

This is the what I believe it means to say “yes” to the life God has for you. It is what I believe it means to grow in emotional and spiritual health. It means “dying to” toxic patterns of relating to God, yourself, and others. And, it means saying “yes” to following the Good Shepherd as he leads you to becoming more of your God-created self.

Saying Yes to the Life God Has For You

If you’ve struggled with that voice of rigid self-denial, try the following exercise. Take out a blank piece of paper and divide it into two halves. Think of a situation or relationship that is plaguing you, and start to pay attention to the messages in your mind.

1.) List your “Die to Yourself” Messages.

On one side of the paper list the “die to yourself” messages that run through your mind. These are the self-denial messages that can show up in any number of ways. They often include the word “should”:

  • I “should” do what he wants.
  • I “should” meet that need.
  • I “should” forget about that dream.
  • I “should” be the bigger person in this situation.
  • I “should” pretend that what she did was OK.

2.) List your “What if I could” Messages.

On the other side of the paper make a second list. On this list, give yourself permission to write down what you would like to do if you “could”. For example,

  • I would take more space from this relationship if I could get it.
  • I would confront my boss if it wouldn’t jeopardize my job.
  • I would ask for help if I thought they’d step up.
  • I would say “please stop” if I knew it didn’t come with a cost.
  • I would walk away if I could do it without hurting anyone.

3.) Get Curious.

Take a look at both columns. At this point, don’t evaluate which side is “right” or “wrong.” Instead, get curious about each of the columns and what it feels like inside to see them in front of you. Simply notice what it’s like to get those voices out of your head and onto the page in front of you.

Getting curious shifts you out of old patterns of thinking and creates space for new possibilities. It helps you become more aware of habits or behaviors that may no longer be healthy for you.

4.) Invite God to Draw Near.

Prayerfully consider both columns, inviting God to draw near. Are you sure that “should” column is from him? Is it possible he’s nudging you toward saying “yes” to what you need and want? Don’t rush into making a big change at this point. Simply notice any assumptions you’ve been making about God.

The point of this exercise is to grow in self + God-awareness. It’s to begin to notice messages that you might be listening to that aren’t actually what God wants or what is best for you.

This is the first step in making what I call a “Yes List.” It’s starting to think about what you want to say yes to in order to honor the woman God made. It may feel uncomfortable at first. That’s OK. Over the coming weeks, I’ll give you more opportunities to practice “dying” to unhealthy ways of relating to other people and start saying “Yes” to the life God has for you.

This article originally appeared here.

Are You Really Supposed to Die to Yourself?

Who according to Jesus is His sheep?

September 28, 2020 Nehemiah Zion

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

Are you born a Christian? Yes, a religious one. Not according to the Bible.

The Bible clearly records all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Which means, we need to be born again (John3:3) to be a true Christian.

The verse above inspired me in a fresh way recently;

My Sheep

Jesus refers to His children as “MY” sheep. An endearing and personal approach while talking to His disciples. It reveals God’s love for us. The character of love in Jesus.

Hear My Voice

Faith comes by hearing the word of God. Jesus is the author of our faith. All those who love Jesus, hear His voice. Not only hear, but keep it, and He keeps them.

I Know Them

Jesus knowing us reveals the fellowship He enjoys with His children. As He is holy, we must preserve our life in holiness for Him to know us, dwell in us.

They Follow Me

Anyone who claims to love Jesus, be His sheep, hears His voice will be followers too. They will not only be known by Jesus, but will also be found following Him everyday. We are called to do His perfect will.

Hope this edifies you and enables to approach your walk with God in a fresh way.

Who according to Jesus is His sheep?

VIDEO Hank Kunneman’s Four Prophetic Dreams

by noah

Anyone else ready for a new message from Pastor Hank Kunneman?

Good thing yesterday was Sunday, because I’ve got one for you!

Actually, I have a couple.

Hank’s messages were absolutely amazing.

I watched both the 9:00am and the 11:30am services and they were actually quite a bit different!

Here are two of the biggest moments, although I would really encourage you to scroll down and watch the entire thing.

But if you want a clip, here is Pastor Hank talking about his 4 prophetic dreams that he’s had dating back to 2019.

They’re good.

Watch:

And for anyone who is losing hope, you need to watch this.

As I’ve been telling you since November 3, this ain’t over yet!

Not by a long shot.

STILL not by a long shot even as we approach January 20.

Folks, I don’t know what will happen on January 20, I don’t know if we will see the mass arrests we’ve been waiting for or if we will see 46 sworn in, but I do know this: Trump is going back in office and he will rightfully take up his second term at some point in the near future.

Listen to Pastor Hank explain:

If you want to watch his full messages (that’s what I recommend) I have them for you here.

Start with the 9:00am:

And then the 11:30am.

Here:

And in case any of those get deleted, I have a backup.

Please enjoy:

The Dangers of “Sexxx Ed”

by Jerry Newcombe, D.Min.

Because of the virus, there is a current debate between opening up the schools or only using online instruction.

Online instruction allows parents to hear what is being taught to their children. But that has some liberals up at arms because they want to teach a more radical curriculum than most parents would wish.

Perhaps the largest bone of contention in this respect is in the realm of sex education, which in our day has become more radicalized.

Christian attorney Brad Dacus, the president of Pacific Justice Institute, even calls today’s curriculum “Sexxx ed.”

Dacus told D. James Kennedy Ministries: “With the new sex-ed curriculum revolution taking place in public schools, it is a literal spiritual genocide….It is so twisted with a radical LGBTQ taught to young children all the way down to kindergarten, convincing them that they can change their gender—be a boy on the inside, girl on the outside.”

The Family Research Council (FRC) has recently released a booklet laying out the shocking facts about all this. It is entitled “Sex Education in Public Schools: Sexualization of Children and LGBT Indoctrination.” The author is Cathy Ruse, a Senior Fellow at FRC and Georgetown Law grad.

Ruse notes, “Most of us remember what sex education was like when we were in school. A couple of uncomfortable hours….Things are very different today.”

•Children are taught they could be born “in the wrong body.”

•Teens are shown videos of techniques to pleasure their sex partners.

•Students are told how to have abortions without telling their parents.

•Schools in Indiana send teens out to shop for condoms.

And on it goes.

Tony Perkins, the president of FRC, told me in an interview: “When most parents hear about sex education, they immediately think back to their gym teacher giving them some of the basic facts of human biology. But that’s not what is being taught today in our schools.”

He noted that for the most part much of today’s teaching is “a tutorial on sexual activity.” He also said, “It has expanded to where in some cases it is 70 hours of instruction.”

Planned Parenthood is now the nation’s largest sex educator in our public schools. And they profit off of the abortions they provide to sexually active teenagers. This reminds me of the old phrase, “Follow the money.”

In an interview on Christian television, Cathy Ruse told me, “There is a story out of a rural Virginia county where parents learned that their 9th grade daughters had been shown a Planned Parenthood sex ed video…focusing on certain sexual organs of their partners, and the video promoted the use of sex toys.”

As noted earlier, response to the coronavirus has shut down many schools, which now provide only virtual classes. And some educators do not welcome parental involvement.

Last week, the DailyWire.com (8/20/20) noted that parents have to sign a waiver “agreeing not to monitor virtual instruction.” Why? Does the school have something to hide? This particular story was out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee—not some liberal metropolis.

On 8/10/20, washingtonexaminer.com wrote of a Philadelphia teacher who fretted that “conservative parents” who listen in on their children’s instructions might interfere with teachers who are involved “in the messy work of destabilizing a kid’s racism or homophobia or transphobia.” The teacher assumes that teachers know what’s best for the children, not the parents.

Who is responsible for the children? The parents or the teachers?

The Bible tells us that the parents are responsible for rearing their children. And God will hold parents accountable for the type of education they provide for their children. This is why school choice is such a hotly debated topic today.

One byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic is that some parents learned that they actually could homeschool their children. Homeschooling has a long and rich tradition in American history. Some of our founding fathers and great leaders were homeschooled for at least part of their education. This includes George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Abraham Lincoln. Homeschooled children today often succeed well beyond their public school counterparts.

Parents are responsible for their children, even if they delegate the teaching to the school. Our TV ministry once covered a story about a young girl in a California high school who had an abortion apart from her parents’ permission or knowledge. When she developed an infection (because of the abortion) that caused her to be paralyzed, it was the parents, not the school, who had to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Schools should work with parents, not against them.

If the schools are teaching dangerous things, including falsehoods about sex—and purposely excluding the parents from knowing what’s going on—parents might want to consider other educational options for their children.

https://www.djameskennedy.org/article-detail/the-dangers-of-sexxx-ed

Why go the extra mile?

I can only imagine the mixed reactions within the crowd as Jesus began to preach this “new” message which seemed to be in conflict with those of the other teachers (of the law). Here is an excerpt from that well known discourse titled “Sermon on the Mount,” which is recorded in the book of Matthew, chapter 5.

“…You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment…You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart…“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also…“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy…But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

I am pretty sure that some of them were perplexed and others were confused, but the majority were most likely in plain awe as they listened to this prophet’s captivating and heart-piercing words. Some may have even asked themselves whether or not it was possible to live up to these challenging standards. Among all the seemingly unorthodox things that Jesus taught them on that day, the two most difficult to follow/swallow must have been: 1) “Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt. 5:44) and 2) “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” (Matt. 5:41). That’s simply because forgiving and blessing those who hurt us as well as doing more than what we are expected to is contrary to human nature.

Of the many biblical and practical lessons I have taught my children, “going the extra mile” is one of them, especially since the Bible teaches us that, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people. (Col. 3:23). Going the extra mile in whatever we do is a sign of both selflessness and excellence. It is something that is developed not only from witnessing it during one’s childhood years, but also as a result of emotional, practical, and spiritual maturity. If done with the right attitude and motive, it can leave a huge impact on people’s lives. That is why I believe it’s a call of duty that every Christ follower should be known for.

Here is an adaptation of a story found in the Jewish Talmud. Perhaps it can help us understand how going the extra mile can truly make a difference.

A man was asked to paint a boat. He brought his paint and brushes and began to paint the boat a bright red, as the owner asked him. While painting, he noticed a small hole in the hull, and quietly repaired it. When he finished painting, he received his money and left. The next day, the owner of the boat came to the painter and presented him with a nice check, much higher than the payment for painting. The painter was surprised and said “You've already paid me for painting the boat Sir!” “But this is not for the paint job. It's for repairing the hole in the boat.” “Ah! But it was such a small service... certainly it's not worth paying me such a high amount for something so insignificant.” “My dear friend, you do not understand. Let me tell you what happened: “When I asked you to paint the boat, I forgot to mention the hole.“When the boat dried, my kids took the boat and went on a fishing trip. “They did not know that there was a hole. I was not at home at that time. “When I returned and noticed they had taken the boat, I was desperate because I remembered that the boat had a hole. “Imagine my relief and joy when I saw them returning from fishing. “Then, I examined the boat and found that you had repaired the hole! “You see, now, what you did? You saved the life of my children! I do not have enough money to pay your 'small' good deed.”

No matter where we are, we must purpose in our hearts to do more than what we’ve be asked or paid to do and definitely more than just bless people verbally. As men and women who have experienced the selfless, sacrificial, and generous grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, we should willingly and joyfully go above and beyond when working, ministering, or helping others.

Let us never forget, “…what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1). And that He, who is able to bless us with far more than what we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20), “… has raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might display the surpassing riches of His grace, demonstrated by His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6-7).

So, let us keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to repair all the “leaks” may we find while engaging in our daily activities. For in doing so, we can be used of God to save many lives. Perhaps your life has been saved because someone went the extra mile for you. If so, do the same!

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you…”

MATTHEW 7:12

“Going the extra mile is about love; it’s a passionate obsession with excellence. It is the result of good intention, uncompromising standards, sincere effort, intelligent design, attention to detail and skillful execution.”

— GARY RYAN BLAIR

Why go the extra mile?

5 Portraits of a Real Disciple (Luke 14:25-35)

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

Jesus was getting closer and closer to the cross. People who wanted to see a miracle or get a free meal from Him were mobbing Him. The crowd following Jesus knew who He was, but they would soon be gone. The crowd was about to become much smaller because Jesus started setting forth the cost of discipleship and it’s not a popular message. It requires total commitment. Today, the majority of people who express an interest in Jesus represent the crowd–they are not committed to Jesus and do not experience a deep level of intimacy with Him. In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus provided five vivid images and used each one to teach a lesson about discipleship:

1. A Family: Love Jesus Supremely

The first image Jesus used was a family. Are you surprised Jesus said to be a disciple you must hate your family? I read about a pastor who entitled his sermon, “How to hate your wife.” You may be asking yourself, “Doesn’t Jesus talk elsewhere about loving everyone, including our enemies?” Yes, but the Greek word for “hate” means something totally different than our English word for “hate.” In Greek the word “hate” means to prefer above. Jesus often used figures of speech to give His words a greater impact. He used metaphors, similes, and parables. And here, He simply employed hyperbole. Hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration to emphasize a point. My wife uses hyperbole all the time when she says something like, “I’ve told you a million times to put the seat down.” I know it really isn’t a million times, so don’t get upset because Jesus used hyperbole.

To be a real disciple, we must love Jesus more than we love anyone else–even family members. Our love for Jesus should be so powerful that in comparison, it seems as if we hate everyone else. It is also true that sometimes our love for Jesus will alienate us from others, even our family. If you truly follow the Lord, you won’t have to look for people to ridicule you and oppose you, they will find you–and they may be your family members. Jesus said, “All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved… Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:22, 37). Friend, when God calls you, you will have to make some difficult decisions, and sometimes your family will not jump up and down and rejoice over your choices. That’s the first portrait of a real disciple.

2. A Cross: Live Like a Dead Person

The second image Jesus used was a cross. A real disciple is someone who carries his cross. Many Christians are confused about what it means to carry a cross. I’ve had someone say to me, “I have migraine headaches, but I guess it’s just the cross I must bear.” Or I had someone take off his shoe one time and show me his ugly big toe. He said, “I have an in-grown toenail, but I guess it’s just the cross I must bear.” I always wanted to say, “Why don’t you have that nasty thing worked on by a doctor?” The cross is NOT a headache or an ingrown toenail.

The true message of the cross is death. In Jesus’ time the cross was a horrible, agonizing, and tortuous mode of execution. It was the electric chair, lethal injection, and noose of His day. In the time of Jesus, when you saw someone carrying a cross, it meant only one thing–they were as good as dead. Jesus’ audience was well aware of what it meant to carry a cross. When the Romans led a criminal to his execution site, he was forced to carry the cross on which he would die. This showed his submission to Rome and warned observers they had better submit too. Jesus spoke this teaching to get the crowd thinking about their enthusiasm for Him. He encouraged those who were superficial either to go deeper or to turn back. Following Christ means total submission to Him–perhaps even to the point of death.

But today, the image of the cross has lost its horror. How many of you are either wearing a cross or have a cross on your Bible? How nice. The cross has become benign–a piece of harmless jewelry. What if stores began to sell miniature models of an electric chair or made a little syringe of poison and started offering it as jewelry to wear? Can you imagine someone walking up to you saying, “I love your electric chair hanging from your neck, where did you get it?” Or “I love your lethal injection syringe, where did you get it?”

Paul understood what it meant to carry a cross. Here are two dynamite verses from the book of Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20) and “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). That means there is nothing the world has to offer that interests you–it’s as if the world is dead to you and you are dead to the world. For a disciple carrying a cross, the world can’t offer a thing he wants. In many ways, a dead man is set free. You and I won’t be truly liberated until we understand what it is to be crucified with Christ. That’s the second portrait of a real disciple.

3. A Tower: Consider the Value of a Good Finish

The third image Jesus used was a tower. Jesus presented the image of a man who plans on building a tower. Before he begins the construction, he must “count the cost” to see if he has enough resources to finish the job. When a builder doesn’t count the cost or estimates it inaccurately, his building may be left half completed. Jesus is talking about the cost of commitment.

Will your Christian life be only half built and then abandoned because you did not count the cost of total commitment to Jesus? What are those costs? Christians may face loss of social status or wealth. They may have to give up control over their money, their time, and their career. They may be hated, separated from their family, and even put to death. Following Christ does not mean a trouble-free life. We must carefully count the cost of becoming Christ’s disciples, so we will know what we are getting into and won’t be tempted later to turn back.

Actually, it may be better to think in terms of the value instead of the cost. A good finish as a disciple is the key. A lot of backslidden Christians may go to heaven when they die, but they won’t be finishing well. Jesus spoke about the man “who was not able to finish” (v. 29). Jesus says everyone will look at the uncompleted project and ridicule the one who didn’t finish it. I’m haunted by those words–I don’t want to become a spiritual dropout.

The older I get the more I realize there can never be any “coasting” in the Christian life. There is no such thing as spiritual retirement. The pages of the Bible are littered with great men and women who didn’t finish well. Noah and his family were saved from the flood, but poor Noah ended as a drunken man who got naked. Solomon was the wisest man in all of history, but he didn’t finish well–his many wives turned his heart away from God.

Are you going to finish well? I know some folks who used to be faithful servants, real disciples, but they have dropped out. Oh, they still attend church sometimes and I suppose they’ll go to heaven when they die, but unless something changes they aren’t going to finish strong.

The good news is none of us are finished yet. It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past, we can still finish well. The finish line is still ahead. Are you sitting down on the track? Are you going to barely drag yourself across the finish line? Or are you going to summon God’s strength, so you can sprint across the finish line? It doesn’t matter how well you start if you fail to finish. A real disciple finishes strong.

4. A War: Surrender to the Stronger King

In the fourth image Jesus used, He described two kings. One was outnumbered, so he wisely approached the stronger king and made peace before the battle ever began. You and I are one of the kings and God is the other. Guess which one we are? Because we can never win against God, we must surrender to Him. In Jesus’ time, a surrendering king could be made into a slave of the opposing king, so it required great humility to bow down and ask for terms of peace. It takes humility to surrender to Jesus. You cannot be a disciple unless you are willing to give up control of your life to Him. And that’s hard to do. None of us wants to give up.

I once read about a lifeguard on a beach who saw a drowning man. He walked into the surf but didn’t go out to rescue him. People gathered on the beach and yelled and screamed at the lifeguard to go out and rescue the drowning man. The lifeguard waded a little deeper, and kept his eye on the drowning man, but the yells and screams of the onlookers didn’t motivate him to swim out. Just when it seemed the man was going down for the last time the lifeguard swam out with strong strokes, and grabbed the man and brought him back to shore. After some spitting and coughing the man was conscious. But rather than hailing him as a hero the onlookers were angry at the lifeguard and said, “You coward! You saw he was drowning. Why didn’t you go out sooner?”

The lifeguard patiently explained, “You can see that he is much bigger and stronger than I am.” If I had gone out sooner, he was thrashing and kicked so violently that he would have probably drowned both of us. As long as he was trying to save himself, I couldn’t save him. But when he got tired and gave up, then I knew I could save him.”

That’s a great lesson about salvation. As long as you think you are strong enough to save yourself, you won’t surrender to Jesus. It’s only when you give up and realize you are hopelessly lost that Jesus can come and rescue you. Have you ever come to a place in your life where you have surrendered everything you have and everything you are to Jesus? Real discipleship is coming to Jesus and saying, “Jesus, I give up control of my life to You.”

One of the reasons the book of Psalms speaks of lifting your hands in praise is because the lifting of hands has always been a gesture of surrender. Even today the police will say, “Put your hands up!” Have you surrendered to Jesus? I didn’t ask you if you were a Christian. For me, I have found I need to surrender to Jesus often. Maybe you need to do what I do.

5. Salt: Stay Pure to Preserve Goodness

The fifth image Jesus used was salt. Salt was very valuable during Jesus’ time. Roman soldiers were paid with salt rations. The greatest value of salt was in its use as a preservative. Since they didn’t have any way to refrigerate meat, salt would be applied to fresh meat to prevent the meat from rotting. The salt created a chemical reaction that slowed down the process of decay and preserved the goodness of the meat. That’s why Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13).

The problem Jesus identified is that some people have lost their saltiness. We live in a nation suffering from moral decay at an alarming rate. Our society is getting more rotten by the day. Sadly, many believers live such impure lives that they have lost their sense of saltiness in a rotting world. When we allow impure thoughts and impure behavior to become mixed in our personality, we lose our saltiness. Many Christians blend into the world and avoid the cost of standing up for Christ. But Jesus said if Christians lose their distinctive saltiness, they become worthless. Just as salt flavors and preserves food, we are to preserve the good in the world. Being “salty” is not easy, but if we fail in this function, we fail to represent Christ to the world. How salty are you?

We should be dangerous disciples in this world, but too many believers are harmless to the devil’s work. Too many Christians are like the dog a friend of mine told me about. One day, he walked into an old country store and saw a sign just inside that read: “DANGER! BEWARE OF DOG!” My friend looked around cautiously, but all he saw was an old hound curled up on the floor, sound asleep. He said to the owner, “That dog doesn’t look dangerous to me.” The owner said, “Well, folks kept tripping over him, so that’s why I put up the sign.”

Are you a real disciple? Do you love Jesus more than anyone else, even your family? Are you a dead man walking, carrying your cross? Are you committed to finishing strong for Jesus? Are you constantly surrendering everything you have to Him? Are you willing to stay pure, so you can be salt in a rotting world? Jesus is looking for a few good men and women: the humble, the pure, the dead, the committed. Will you decide today to move from being a casual bystander in the crowd and make being a fully devoted follower of Jesus your goal?

https://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/5-portraits-of-a-real-disciple-3/

1776 Commission releases final report, calls it rebuttal to reckless ‘re-education’ attempts

“States and school districts should reject any curriculum that promotes one-sided partisan opinions,” the report concludes.

Decapitated statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston

Jan 19, 2021

President Trump’s 1776 Commission – described by the White House as a “historic and scholarly” effort to help restore Americans’ understanding of how the country was founded – has released its final report, which it describes as a “dispositive rebuttal of reckless ‘re-education’ attempts.”

The White House also said the 45-page report provides a chronicle of U.S. history challenge those that attempt to “reframe American history around the idea that the United States is not an exceptional country but an evil one.”

The report, released Monday, is also critical of what it calls “destructive scholarship” that misrepresents the history of slavery and racial discrimination, according to the New York Post.

“States and school districts should reject any curriculum that promotes one-sided partisan opinions, activist propaganda, or factional ideologies that demean America’s heritage, dishonor our heroes, or deny our principles,” the 1776 report states.

Trump created the commission last year amid the national anti-police brutality protests that took aim at many of the country’s Founding Fathers, attempting and frequently succeeding in removing statutes of them from public places. 

The 1776 Commission was also formed about one year after The New York Times’1619 Project which attempted to reframe U.S. history by putting the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans more center of the “national narrative.”

The 1776 document also states: “Deliberately destructive scholarship shatters the civic bonds that unite all Americans. It silences the discourse essential to a free society by breeding division, distrust, and hatred among citizens. And it is the intellectual force behind so much of the violence in our cities, suppression of free speech in our universities, and defamation of our treasured national statues and symbols,” The New York Post also reports.

The report is also critical of higher education, saying, “Colleges peddle resentment and contempt for American principles and history alike, in the process and historical truth, shames Americans by highlighting only the sins of their ancestors, and teaches claims of systemic racism that can only be eliminated by more discrimination, is an ideology intended to manipulate opinions more than educate minds.”

https://justthenews.com/government/white-house/trumps-1776-commission-releases-final-report-calls-it-rebuttal-reckless-re

Vain Babblings

 / MULYALE MUTISYA

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness’ ~ 2 Timothy 2:16

Vain babblings are spoken in insincerity. ‘And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men’ (Matthew 6:9). The God who ‘weighs the heart’ (Proverbs 21:2) knows why one says what they say and do what they do. No matter what good one says and what good one does, the intention matters most to God. Jesus knew that the Pharisees do what they do to be seen by men, and not to earnestly commune with God. Jesus says of them, ‘for they loved praise from men more than praise from God’ (John 12:43). Thus, their words became vain before God.

uld not accept praise from men, only from God. So when we offer up prayers, we do it according to the will of God and not of man. In turn, God lends ear for we sincerely approach Him out of love, worship, communion and need. It is not for us to be seen as righteous or religious by fellow men but they are sincere words. They are not vain babblings.

Vain babblings are spoken in unbelief. ‘And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words’ (Matthew 6:7). The prophets of Baal ‘called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered’ (1 Kings 18:26). Such frantic and prolonged babblings point to unbelief. Length is not a factor while offering petitions to God but the level of belief. As for Elijah, he trusted in the true God and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all things at your command. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again” (v36-37). ‘Then the fire of the Lord fell and burnt up the sacrifice’ (v38).

Elijah did not keep on babbling using vain repetitions like the pagan prophets. Likewise, while offering petitions to God, we ought to do it in belief and not just length. Jesus admonishes, ‘Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe you have received it, and it will be yours’ (Mark 11:24). This belief in God will keep us from vain babblings which cause one to use their might, power and oratory abilities while petitioning God. Since Christ followers’ possess faith, we petition God in belief for we know that, ‘without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him’ (Hebrews 11:6).

Vain babblings are spoken in pride and boasting. They are spoken by those ‘who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight’ (Isaiah 5:21). When God uses them or blesses them, instead of thanking and acknowledging God, they boast and say like the King of Assyria, ‘By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding’ (Isaiah 10:12). The King further boasts with many words and ‘when words are many, sin is not absent’ (Proverbs 10:19). With pride, he says, ‘Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’ (2 Kings 18:35). God sees the pride in his heart and hears the boasting, and says, ‘those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Listen! I am going to put such a spirit in him that when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword’ (19:v6-7). Truly, ‘pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall’ (Proverbs 16:8).

Those in Christ only have one reason to boast. Like Paul, we say, ‘May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world’ (Galatians 6:14). This is because we know that ‘every good and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning’ (James 1:17). There are those who boast outside of Christ, in their abilities, wisdom or wealth, ‘but her boasts are empty’ (Isaiah 16:6) and are only vain babblings.

Vain babblings are spoken without knowledge and understanding. ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men’ (Isaiah 29:13). They are those who do not search the Scriptures, those who are taught of men and not taught of God. ‘Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition’ (Matthew 15:6). These people only catch rumours of God and use that in their worship. Repeating what they hear, whether it aligns with the Word of God or not, they do not know. And so they end up offering vain babblings, for they do not know what they say. God says, ‘For this is a people without understanding; so their Maker has no compassion on them, and their Creator shows them no favour’ (Isaiah 27:11).

The true believer, ‘worships the Father in Spirit and truth’ (John 4:23). They are not ‘carried away by all kinds of strange teachings’ (Hebrews 13:9) because they ‘do not believe every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world’ (1 John 4:1). How then can one test if they have no knowledge and understanding of God’s Word? Paul writes to the Galatians, ‘I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- which is really no gospel at all’ (Galatians 1:6-7). Jesus cautions, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you’ (Matthew 24:4). Those who speak vainly by misconstruing God’s Word only ‘exploit you with stories they have made up’ (2 Peter 2:3). Therefore, we should watch out not to utter things we hear that are contrary to God’s Word and Spirit- for they are without knowledge and understanding. They are vain babblings.

https://carolynemutisya7.wordpress.com/2020/10/10/vain-babblings/

When You Feel Like Your Dreams Are on Hold

Shadia Hrichi

“Would I bring to the point of birth and not deliver?”

These are the words God pressed on my heart yesterday. I was in my living room during my morning quiet time. But my mind and spirit were anything but quiet. My journal was open as I furiously penned thoughts and frustrations, prayers and praises … dreams and disappointments. Page after page after page.

Hurricanes on the east coast, wildfires on the west, and COVID racing around the globe. So much chaos swirling all around us. Yet at the same time, here we are simultaneously trapped in our homes. Work from home. School at home. Church at home … What a paradox! Proverbs 27:1 warns us,

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”

Isn’t that the truth? 

Truth be told, there are quite a number of Bible verses that remind us not to hold on too tightly to our plans. That can be hard when we live in a society where we are virtually tethered to our calendars.

But what if God gives us the vision? What if our plans are conceived by the Holy Spirit? What happens when we move forward in obedience only to feel like we just slammed into a brick wall?

God says in His Word that when we yield to Him, we will hear His voice saying,

“This is the way, walk in it …” and that He will lead us in the way we should go. (Isaiah 30:21, 48:17).

So we move forward. We step out in faith … then suddenly, wham!

A dear friend had just moved into a lovely home in the beautiful redwoods of Mount Hermon. She had been looking forward to having a quiet place where she could rest and God could give her son room to heal. Just weeks later, she was forced to evacuate because of approaching wildfires.

Another friend has a daughter who had been planning her wedding for over a year. Then COVID hit. They postponed the date. They postponed it again. Finally, she told her parents, “I just want to get married and move on with my life.” Others have lost their homes or had to say goodbye to loved ones from a distance.

As I was praying and journaling, I was struggling with my own disappointment over the LEGION Bible study video production dates being canceled at the last possible moment due to the fires. Add to that the enemy’s attempt to pile on guilt in knowing that my disappointment is trivial compared to what many others are dealing with.

The worse part of it is that no one knows when it will all end. In times like these, it is so easy to give in to despair, but that’s when we have to stop and say, “BUT GOD …”

BUT GOD knows. And God cares. In fact, long before He gave you the dream, He knew exactly how the path, timing, and outcome would look. This is when we need to remind ourselves that God is sovereign over all. In fact, this is one of the key themes in the teaching sessions I will be recording for the Legion Bible study. (Good grief, I need to heed my own words!) And so as I was praying yesterday morning, “casting my cares” on God about when or if the video production would happen, I heard God’s gentle voice, saying,

“Shall I bring to the point of birth and not deliver?”

In other words, if God has pressed a dream into my heart or yours, would He bring us to the edge of fulfillment only to abandon us there? NEVER. GOD IS FAITHFUL TO FINISH WHAT HE STARTED. The path may look different than what we imagined. The timing may not be what we had hoped. But if God gives us the vision, the OUTCOME is as sure as the tomb was empty on resurrection morning.

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” (Psalm 138:8)

What dream are you trusting God to fulfill in this season?

Copyright © 2020 by Shadia Hrichi, author of LEGION: Rediscovering the God Who Rescues Me and HAGAR: Rediscovering the God Who Sees Me. Used by permission.

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https://www1.cbn.com/devotions/when-you-feel-like-your-dreams-are-on-hold

10 Ways the Enemy Infiltrates the Church

By Chuck Lawless -September 30, 2020

enemy

In some ways, this post is just a Bible review. As I think about ways the enemy seeks to infiltrate a church, I find many of those ways in Paul’s correspondence to the Corinthians. While this list isn’t exhaustive, here are some ways we should recognize:

  1. Rivalry in the church (1 Cor 1:10-17). When groups compete against each other, and ministries fight for their turf, the enemy is winning.
  2. Immaturity among believers (1 Cor 3:1-4). When leaders are still essentially baby believers, the door is open for Satan’s forces.
  3. Tolerating sin in the congregation (1 Cor 5:1-13). The Corinthians not only knew about open sin in the church, but they also boasted about it. Even if we don’t go that far, ignoring sin is evidence of Satan’s influence.
  4. Believers turning on believers (1 Cor 6:1-8). The Corinthians apparently regularly filed grievances against one another rather than try to work them out in Christian love. Internal strife marked their congregation.
  5. Sexual immorality in the church (1 Cor 5:1-13). There’s a reason Paul so often spoke against sexual sin (e.g., 1 Cor 6:12-20, 1 Cor 10:8) and called believing couples to give themselves to each other physically lest Satan tempt them (1 Cor 7:5). This temptation is real and powerful.
  6. Misuse of Christian liberty (1 Cor 8:1-1310:23-30). This issue is often the result of our living in our freedom without regard for others—and the enemy finds working room when we’re self-centered.
  7. Idolatry in the church (1 Cor 10:7, 14). The demons delight when we elevate someone, something, or some action above the true God. Sometimes, our idols aren’t figurines on a shelf, but gods in our heart.
  8. Competition over spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12-14). When we think we’re more gifted than others, or that our gifts are more significant than others, we’re playing into the devil’s hand.
  9. Unwillingness to forgive a repentant believer (2 Cor 2:5-11). When we don’t forgive a returning brother or sister in Christ, we open the door to the enemy’s influence.
  10. False teaching in the church (2 Cor 11:1-15). From debates about the Lord’s Supper to questions of the resurrection to preaching about “another Jesus” (2 Cor 11:4), the enemy seeks to sow falsehood in the church—often through teachers who seem to be angels of light.

Which of these strategies is most evident in your church? What steps are you taking to counter the enemy’s work? What steps are you taking to prepare for his attack?

This article originally appeared here.